Chicago Water Tank Falls Nine Stories, Injures Three

Midwest, Preservation
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
A water tank in downtown Chicago. (Jaysin Trevino via Flickr)

A water tank in downtown Chicago. (Jaysin Trevino via Flickr)

An aging water tank plummeted nine stories from a Chicago building Wednesday, releasing “a tidal wave” of water and debris, one witness said, that injured three people and poured water into a nearby day care center. Of the three victims taken to the hospital one was critically injured, the Sun-Times reported, when the wooden tower, 8 feet across and 12 feet high, fell from the top of 2800 N. Pine Grove Ave.

The building failed a Department of Buildings inspection in 2010, for reasons including issues with the water tank’s steel bands. It passed an annual inspection later that year, according to the Department of Buildings’ online records.

Built in 1893 as the Lincoln Park Palace, the building is now known as the Brewster and is listed as a Chicago landmark.

Water tanks proliferated towards the turn of the 2oth century, in the wake of the Great Chicago Fire. They became less popular as modern plumbing techniques took off, but remain among the city’s most intriguing architectural relics.

A 2006 Chicago Tribune article said only 144 water tanks remain, quoting a Chicago company that maintains them. A USA Today report said about 130 were still in use in 2006.

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